Old steelworks in Sheffield could be brought back to life under plans to install ‘reactors’ making highly-prized powdered metals.
Metalysis is planning to roll out ‘modules’ capable of making tonnes of hi-tech alloys every year.
The single decker bus-sized units, which cost ‘a few million pounds,’ could be installed in old steelworks to take advantage of existing buildings, cranes and high capacity power supply. And they could be linked, to ramp up production while minimising costs.
The ambitious £10m plan was unveiled by Dr Dion Vaughan, Metalysis chief executive, at the launch of the firm’s new Metals Discovery Centre on the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Rotherham.
The company has pioneered a new way of producing “gazillions” of different powdered alloys that is cheaper, greener and faster than traditional methods. They are used in the 3D printing sector which is growing at up to 30 per cent a year.
Now the firm is planning its next phase of commercialisation by licensing the use of reactors across the world.
Dr Vaughan said it heralded a “fourth industrial revolution.”
He added: “The modules could be retro-fitted into a steelworks or old industrial infrastructure all around the UK. The module is relatively cheap, the real cost is in the buildings, cranes, control electronics and power supply.
“We are envisaging projects all around the UK. This is a materials processing revolution potentially here in Sheffield City Region.”
Metalysis’ board approved the ‘Generation 5’ project last week.
It was announced on the day the firm hosted 100 VIPs at the launch of its £2m new building. Some £8m is being invested in developing a new reactor at the firm’s other site in Wath, ahead of it being rolled out.
Metalysis, established in 2001, received £20m from investors last year.
Business minister Lord Prior said: “Sheffield launched the first industrial revolution why can’t it be responsible for the fourth? The world is your oyster.”